Even though Omar Dacosta Holder is now a free man his lawyer is disappointed that his client’s plight had to be highlighted in the media for justice to be served.
After spending 14 years in prison -ten of them on death row – Holder walked out of the Supreme Court last Thursday after the Court of Appeal ruled he should not have been convicted of the March 31, 2005 triple murders of 20-year-old Sakina Walrond, her three-year-old son Shaqkem Gittens and two-month-old daughter Sha-Mya Mapp, due to insufficient evidence.
He had been found guilty of the charges and was sentenced to death by Justice Margaret Reifer in 2010.
Through his attorney-at-law Queen’s Counsel Andrew Pilgrim, Holder appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal in 2003, but six years after that appeal was filed a decision had not been forthcoming.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY on July 3, Pilgrim highlighted Holder’s plight and slammed Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson and the Court of Appeal for its tardiness in issuing a ruling.
Two weeks later in a landmark ruling, the CCJ gave Pilgrim the green light to “leapfrog” the Court of Appeal and bring the matter directly to them.
However, before the Queen’s Counsel could do so, the Court of Appeal ruled on the matter by setting Holder free.
In handing down its decision, the Court of Appeal ruled that the capital murder case against Holder should never have gone to trial and declared the conviction unsafe.
Chief Justice Sir Marston explained that the Crown’s case against Holder was “predicated largely” on several oral statements as well as a written statement, which the accused had allegedly dictated but refused to sign.
And while Pilgrim was not in the island to share in his client’s joy after he was released from prison, he told Barbados TODAY that he should not have had to come to the press to get justice for his client.
He said the six-year delay by the Court of Appeal in handing down a decision could not be accepted, and called on the courts to be more efficient going forward.
“It is a shame that we have to fight battles like this in the media and we have to call on the CCJ to get the court to do what it is supposed to do,” Pilgrim said.
“I look forward to the courts functioning properly and I expect that the Government is not going to accept this lack of performance by the courts going forward. It is not something that we as a people can afford to accept.
“We as a people have to seem to be expecting more from public functionaries at all levels, from the Governor General right down to the janitor and the garbage man. Every man has to perform his job and if he doesn’t perform his job there should be sanctions for it,” the outspoken attorney-at-law said.